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Federal Highway Administration > Publications > Public Roads > Vol. 74 · No. 1 > Along the Road

July/August 2010
Vol. 74 · No. 1

Publication Number: FHWA-HRT-10-005

Along the Road

Along the Road is the place to look for information about current and upcoming activities, developments, trends, and items of general interest to the highway community. This information comes from U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) sources unless otherwise indicated. Your suggestions and input are welcome. Let's meet along the road.

Management and Administration

USDOT Launches Enforcement Pilot Programs on Distracted Driving

As part of its continuing effort to combat distracted driving, USDOT recently launched pilot programs in Hartford, CT, and Syracuse, NY, to test whether increased law enforcement efforts can deter drivers from using their cell phones. The pilot programs are the first federally funded efforts in the country to focus specifically on the effects of increased enforcement and public advertising on reducing distracted driving.

During the pilots, law enforcement officials will pull over and ticket drivers caught texting or talking on a handheld cell phone. The program's message is simple, "Phone in One Hand. Ticket in the Other." High-visibility enforcement began in the Hartford and Syracuse metropolitan areas in April 2010, and subsequent enforcement waves in both States will take place throughout the yearlong programs. A paid advertising campaign will support the pilots in both States.

Each pilot program received $200,000 in Federal funds and a matching $100,000 contribution from the State. Re-searchers will study changes in attitudes and behavior before and after the pilots, and the results will serve as a model for employing high-visibility enforcement, education, and outreach to reduce distracted driving across the country.

For more information, visit www.distraction.gov.

Policy and Legislation

USDOT, EPA Set New Fuel Economy Standards for Cars, Light Trucks

In April 2010, USDOT and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) established new Federal rules that set the first national greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions standards. The rules will significantly increase the fuel economy of all new passenger cars and light trucks sold in the United States. The new standards potentially could save the average buyer of a 2016 model-year car $3,000 over the life of the vehicle and, nationally, will conserve about 1.8 billion barrels of oil and reduce nearly a billion tons of GHG emissions over the lives of the vehicles.

Issued by USDOT's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and EPA, the rules establish fuel economy standards under NHTSA's Corporate Average Fuel Economy program and GHG emissions standards un-der the Clean Air Act for 2012–2016 model-year vehicles. Starting with 2012 model-year vehicles, the rules require automakers to improve fleetwide fuel economy and reduce fleetwide GHG emissions by approximately 5 percent each year.

The joint final regulation achieves the goal set by President Barack Obama to develop a national program to es-tablish Federal standards that meet the needs of the States and the Nation as a whole to conserve energy and re-duce GHG emissions. Cars, sport utility vehicles, minivans, and pickup trucks are responsible for almost 60 percent of all U.S. transportation-related GHG emissions.

Public Information and Information Exchange

Traffic Fatalities Reach Record Low in 2009

Statistics recently released by USDOT indicate that the number of overall traffic fatalities reported at the end of 2009 reached the lowest level since 1954, declining for the 15th consecutive quarter. According to early projections, the fatality rate, which takes into account the number of miles traveled, reached the lowest level ever recorded.

The projected fatality data for 2009, gathered by NHTSA, places the highway fatality count at 33,963, a drop of 8.9 percent compared to the 37,261 fatalities reported in 2008. The fatality rate for 2009 declined to 1.16 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles traveled (VMT) down from 1.25 fatalities per 100 million VMT in 2008.

Although USDOT officials are encouraged by the drop and continuing trend, they remain steadfast in their deter-mination to make the Nation's roadways safer. According to NHTSA Administrator David Strickland, "We will not stop as long as there are still lives lost on our Nation's highways. We must continue our efforts to ensure seatbelts are always used and stay focused on reducing distracted and impaired driving."

NHTSA attributes the decline in 2009 to a combination of factors that include high visibility campaigns, such as "Click It or Ticket," which aims to increase seatbelt use, and "Drunk Driving. Over the Limit. Under Arrest.," which helps to enforce State laws to prevent drunk and distracted driving. In addition, NHTSA credits safer roads, safer vehicles, and motorists driving less.

For more information and to download the report, visit www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/811291.PDF

FHWA Map Shows Road Projects Funded by Recovery Act

FHWA has created an interactive map of the United States that shows the location of more than 12,000 road projects funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA). The map features color-coded symbols corresponding to project type and enables users to zoom in to see details, including brief project descrip-tions and funding amounts.

Map. This map of the United States has blue dots scattered across it indicating the location of ARRA road projects. Generally, the dots are concentrated in major metropolitan areas in New England, the Mid-Atlantic, Southeast, Midwest, and West Coast.
FHWA created this interactive map showing the location of ARRA road projects.

The projects are located either within the ZIP Code where the primary work is being done—indicated on the map as a circle—or when available, by specific route information—indicated by a triangle. To view this information, map users can manipulate the map in a number of ways: accessing a drop-down menu that zooms in by State, double-clicking on the specific area to zoom in, or using onscreen navigation controls. Once the map zooms in on an area, the projects are distinguished by type, including pavement improvement, safety/traffic management, bridge im-provement, transportation enhancements, other, and "spotlight project," a featured project in each State.

To view the map, visit https://fhwaapps.fhwa.dot.gov/rap/.

National Bike Summit Stresses Importance Of Nonmotorized Transportation

In March 2010, more than 720 people gathered in Washington, DC, for a 3-day summit to discuss the needs of bi-cyclists in federally funded road projects. Discussions focused on discouraging transportation investments that negatively affect cyclists and pedestrians, and encouraging investments that go beyond the minimum requirements to provide facilities suitable for bicyclists and pedestrians of all ages and abilities.

Several high-ranking USDOT officials addressed participants during the summit. During an opening session, Peter Rogoff, administrator of the Federal Transit Administration, reassured attendees that the Department has a shared mission to provide transportation alternatives that include bicycling and public transit. At the closing reception, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood thanked summit participants for being advocates for livable, sustainable, bike-friendly communities.

The summit featured more than 40 presentations such as NYC Transportation Alternatives; Transportation Policy & Health: Building for a Healthy America; Bicycling to the Federal Workplace; Keeping Youth Rolling on the Right Path; Driver Distraction: Overview of the Problem & NHTSA Activities; Maximizing the Role of Bicycle Retailers in Local Advocacy; Commuter Benefits for the Bicycle Commuter; How Bicycling Can Boost Public Transit; and Colleges, Universities, Biking, and Climate Change.

Grants Help Provide Training for Transportation-Related Careers

FHWA recently awarded millions of dollars in job training grants for underrepresented or disadvantaged people pur-suing careers in transportation, engineering, or construction. FHWA distributed the awards, made possible by ARRA, through its On-the-Job Training Supportive Services (OJTSS) and Disadvantaged Business Enterprises/Supportive Services (DBE/SS) programs.

The OJTSS program promotes training opportunities for women and minorities who continue to be underrepre-sented in the highway construction industry's skilled and semiskilled crafts, such as masonry and carpentry. For example, the OJTSS program helped support Virginia's Wounded Veterans Internship Program, which helps wounded active-duty military personnel sharpen their job skills and develop new ones while they recuperate.

The DBE/SS grants are part of an ongoing effort to help State DOTs train certified DBE firms—small businesses owned by minorities, women, or economically disadvantaged individuals—on subjects ranging from contract and business management to procurement assistance and how to secure bonding. The goal of the program is to help these businesses successfully compete for Federal highway projects.

FHWA Wins Engineering Excellence Silver Award

FHWA and the National Highway Institute accepted an award from the American Council of Engineering Companies of New York (ACEC New York) for creating the first national, comprehensive technical manual for the design and construction of tunnels. The manual earned FHWA the Engineering Excellence Silver Award in the category of Stu-dies, Research and Consulting Engineering Services.

The Engineering Excellence Awards Program recognizes and celebrates achievements that demonstrate the highest degree of skill and ingenuity among member firms. ACEC New York presented the award to FHWA during a ceremony in New York City on March 27, 2010.

George A. Munfakh (left), senior vice president at Parsons Brinckerhoff (FHWA contractor), and Firas Ibrahim, a team leader in FHWA's Office of Infrastructure Research and Development, accept the Engineering Excellence Silver Award.
George A. Munfakh (left), senior vice president at Parsons Brinckerhoff (FHWA contractor), and Firas Ibrahim, a team leader in FHWA's Office of Infrastructure Research and Development, accept the Engineering Excellence Silver Award.

The award-winning Technical Manual for Design and Construction of Road Tunnels—Civil Elements, published in March 2009, provides guidelines for planning, design, construction, and rehabilitation of various types of road tunnels. The scope of the manual is primarily limited to the civil elements—that is, the nonmechanical elements includ-ing all structural and geotechnical items—of tunnels.

For more information, visit www.fhwa.dot.gov/bridge/tunnel/pubs/nhi09010/index.cfm.

Florida DOT Studies Innovative Marketing For Public Transportation

The Florida Department of Transportation released a report in February 2010 that explores the potential uses, appli-cations, and marketing and communications potential of social media for the public transportation and travel demand management (TDM) industries. The study identified marketing techniques already being used by the public transportation industry and solicited ideas for unconventional applications that transit agencies and TDM professionals can consider implementing.

The report addresses social media tools including social networks, blogs, audio/video blogs, microblogs (such as Twitter), photo and video sharing, mobile applications, and user-generated content. For each medium, the report provides terminology definitions, benefits and drawbacks, strategic recommendations for transit use, and best practices. In addition, it examines specific examples of applications for the public transit and TDM industries. For example, the section on blogs features a list of links to popular transportation-related blogs, including the official blog of the U.S. Secretary of Transportation.

The study also resulted in a guidebook and Web site to help transit agencies navigate the various social media tools. The guidebook, complete with embedded links to various resources, provides instructions on how agencies can use the media tools and describes the projected benefits. The accompanying Web site, www.GoSocialTransit.com, provides an overview of each tool and links to industry applications.

For more information and to download the report, visit www.dot.state.fl.us/research-center/Completed_Proj/Summary_PTO/FDOT_BD549-53_rpt.pdf.

Florida Department of Transportation

Personnel

FHWA Names First Hispanic Woman To Lead Division

In January 2010, FHWA named Irene Rico to head its Virginia Division Office. Rico is the first Hispanic woman in the Agency's history to hold such a position.

Virginia Division Administrator Irene Rico.
Virginia Division Administrator Irene Rico.

Rico's career with FHWA began in 1985 as a highway engineer trainee. Later, she served in FHWA's New Mexico and Texas division offices, and eventually with the Virginia division as the assistant division administrator. Since 2007, Rico served as the special assistant to the executive director where she advised FHWA leadership on trans-portation policy and played a key role in implementing ARRA's $26.6 billion highway program.

As division administrator, Rico will oversee Virginia's use of more than $1 billion in Federal aid and ARRA funding for highways and bridges.

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